On Change

Washington DC

I’ve always wondered how people can expect so much permanence in their lives. In Washington DC, where I was born and raised (and live now), change is a way of life. People come and go. Buildings change, are torn down, are lost to time. It’s normal.

When I lived in western Massachusetts I lived in a small town that had stayed largely the same most of its long history. There was a historical society with a small museum dedicated to the town. Mostly it celebrated the town’s heritage as a center of industrial progress in the 1800s, or its rebirth into an art mecca. But almost as important were the scars left on the town’s psyche by the change that had happened. The most telling was the museum’s focus on a large project in the ‘70s that tore down half of downtown in the name of progress. They removed old victorian-era storefronts and put up brutalist structures with efficient space and modern amenities. The town I lived in in the early 2000s bemoaned its lost history. The change was seen as a horrible mistake, a part of the town’s soul was lost to time.

I never quite understood why that change was so important to that mountain town. In DC that kind of change happens constantly. I always wondered why, if it was so bad, didn’t they just tear that stuff down and build whatever it is they wanted instead.

DC is a city of transients. Most people who call the District home don’t realize the change that constantly courses through it. They come for a few years for work, work harder than they ever have in their life, and then move on to other things. DC is a city of nerds, geeks, and workaholics. DC is a city of hidden depth. People see the monuments and federal buildings, and don’t realize that they’re just a small part. DC is always changing.

So for me my life is constantly changing. Change is the only constant. Change is life, and to not change is to die. The idea of something permanent has its appeal, but give me too much stasis and I grow uncomfortable, change my music, my wallpaper, my watch face, my clothes. Change is oxygen.

The DCTech event I was at today was very different from those of the past - smaller, less excited, quiet. And that’s why I felt the need to write this - it’s changed. And I’m uncomfortable with that. I want permanence. I want what it was. Sometimes it’s nice to have some consistency. And that’s weird for me.

Maybe sometimes change has to change too.

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